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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

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INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                               181
diminution of the humidity, the air being near saturation
during a great part of the year \ but the decrease of tempe-
rature effects a marked change in the vegetation. Between
6000 and 8000 feet epiphytical orchids are extremely abun-
dant, and they do not entirely disappear till a height of 10,000
feet has been attained. Rhododendrons become abundant at
8000 feet, and from' 10,000 to 14,000 feet they form in many
places the mass of the shrubby vegetation. Vaccinia, of which
there are ten species, almost all epiphytical, do not ascend so
high, and are most abundant at elevations of from 5000 to
8000 feet.
The flora of the temperate zone presents a remarkable re-
semblance to that of Japan, in the mountains of which island
we have a very similar climate, both being cold and clamp.
Helwinyia, Aucuba, Stachyurw, and EnUantlms may be cited
as conspicuous instances of this similarity, which, is the more
interesting because Japan is the nearest cold damp climate
to Sikkim with whose vegetation "we are acquainted. At
10,000 feet (on the summit of Tonglo) yew makes its appear-
ance, but no other conifer except those of the tropical belt is
found nearer the plains than the mountain Phalut, north of
Tonglo, on which Picea Webbiana is found, at levels above
10,000 feet. Abies Brunoniana is first met with at 9000 feet
in the Rangit valley, at Mon Lepcha, and A. Smithiana and
Brunoniana, and the larch, are found everywhere in the val-
leys of the Lachen and Lachung rivers, above 8000 feet.
The Pines are thus specifically the same as those of Bhotan,
excepi Pinw earcelsa, which occurs nowhere in Sikkim.
A subtropical vegetation penetrates far into -the interior of
the country along the banks of the great rivers; rattans,
tree-ferns, plantains, screw-pines, and othef tropical plants
occurring in the Ratong valley, almost at the foot of Kan-
chinjanga, and 5000 feet above the level of the sea. With
the pines, however, in the temperate zone, a very different
kind of vegetation presents itself. Here those great Euro-
pean families which are almost entirely wanting in the outer